China Begins Mass Slaughter Of Poultry As Bird Flu Spreads

6 04 2013
While we all watch the news on TV, fascinated by the unravelling North Korean theatrical sabre rattling (which is nothing more than a desperate attempt by a broke “dear leader” to get “nuisance cash” from the west to make him go away), the really important Asian story has been the newest outbreak of bird flu in China.  It has only claimed six lives so far, with many more coming presumably, but it’s starting to have major effect on the broader economy, like the mass slaughter of poultry at local markets – a move that will certainly have  inflationary effects on a shaky Chinese economy.  I hope Julia Gillard’s had her flu shots…!
SCMP reports:

A sixth person has died of H7N9 bird flu in China, state media said on Friday, after authorities slaughtered poultry in a mass cull at a Shanghai market where the virus has been detected.

The latest fatality was a 64-year-old farmer who died in Huzhou, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, local officials said according to the state Xinhua news agency.

He is thought to be among 14 previously confirmed human cases of H7N9, and is the second person from Zhejiang to die from the strain, with the other four fatalities in Shanghai, China’s commercial hub.

In Taiwan, health authorities were closely monitoring two people who had experienced fever and had recently arrived in Taiwan from the Chinese mainland, Central News Agency reported on Friday.

The two patients, a mainlander who came from Jiangsu and a Taiwan resident arrived from Shanghai, underwent tests for the H7N9 virus on Thursday, the news agency quoted the disease control centre official as saying.

The official said they would have the test results ready as early as Friday afternoon, the report said.

Quick to react, the WHO has arrived, and is doing it best Kevin Bacon-in-Animal House impression:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has played down fears over the H7N9 strain, saying there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission, but that it was crucial to find out how the virus infects humans.

Like the H5N1 variant which typically spreads from birds to humans through direct contact, experts fear such viruses could mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, with the potential to trigger a pandemic.

The first two deaths from the virus, which had not been seen before in humans, occurred in February but were not reported by authorities until late March. Officials said the delay in announcing the results was because it took time to determine the cause of the illness.

The state-run China Daily on Friday quoted the ministry of health in Beijing as pledging “open and transparent exchanges with the WHO and other countries and regions”.

Cold comfort to all those chickens that were brutally slaughtered overnight – the first of bird_flumany?

In Shanghai, the poultry cull was carried out at the Huhuai market in a western suburb of Shanghai following the discovery of the virus in pigeon samples, Xinhua reported.

Images posted on the Sina Weibo microblog by a local television reporter showed men in protective clothing and facemasks entering the market during the night, and dozens of empty birdcages stacked in the middle of the market.

On Friday morning, the entrance to the poultry section was concealed with wooden boards and sealed off with plastic tape, with a police car parked nearby and white disinfectant powder sprinkled in the street.

Two staff members at the market said the slaughter was completed overnight, but one of them added: “Of course, I’m worried.”

And so he should be: the virus is rapidly spreading.

 Experts are concerned that the virus appears to have spread across a wide geographical area, with people sickened not only in Shanghai, but also the nearby provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui.

“I am cautiously worried,” virologist John Oxford of the Queen Mary University of London said.

“If there were four cases in Shanghai, I would be much less concerned, but because it is so geographically widespread I think it is trying to tell us something.” State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Friday that health ministry officials were meeting with agricultural personnel to draw up an action plan aimed at “preventing the spreading of the disease”.

So then, is this the start of the pandemic we’ve been warned about before?  Did anyone china-shanghai-thousands-of-dead-pigs-floating-in-huangpu-river-01-600x400here happen to see the news story of the 20,000 dead pigs floating down ” on March 10?  In an intriguing piece, Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett has now suggested that the virus that killed the pigs could be linked to the new strain of bird flu, reported the Daily Mail……

It also reported that a leading (and un-named) science writer has speculated that the unexplained deaths of thousands of pigs, ducks and swans in China is linked with the recent human bird flu fatalities and heralds the start of a pandemic.

Wow….  and none of this is in the news.  Wonder if Kim Jung Un got his flu shots….




2 responses

8 04 2013

It’s not (yet) transmissible person to person, so nope, no pandemic at this stage.

9 04 2013

But Flu viruses have a nasty habit of mutating. I hope you’re right…..

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